Reading

The Last High – Daniel Kalla | A Book Review

The Last High - Daniel Kalla

Title: The Last High

Author: Daniel Kalla

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about a toxicologist named Dr. Julia Rees as well as a detective named Anson Chen. When multiple teenagers at the same party all overdose from fentanyl, Julie and Anson try to track down the supplier of the deadly drugs before more people die.

First impressions: I’ve never really read anything about opioids before, so I was interested to learn more. I like that the story is set in Vancouver. I thought it would be told from Julie’s and Anson’s point of view, but some chapters are about other characters.

Characters: The author explores how opioids and overdoses have far-reaching effects on many individuals. I didn’t find it difficult to keep track of who was who. I like Julie and Ason along with the diversity of the characters.

Quote:

“At times the loneliness gnaws at her, but the fear of losing everything all over again is worse than the thought of being alone.”

Writing: The book is a little under 350 pages long with short chapters. It’s an eye-opening read with some graphic and mature scenes. I enjoyed the author’s writing as he does a good job balancing description and dialogue.

Final thoughts: The ending is satisfying as it ties up loose ends. Now I’m curious to check out Kalla’s other books. If you want to learn more about drug addiction and how it affects different people, I’d recommend The Last High.


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Reading

A Minute to Midnight – David Baldacci | A Book Review

A Minute to Midnight - David Baldacci

Title: A Minute to Midnight

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the second novel in the Atlee Pine series that follows an FBI agent as she tries to figure out what happened to her twin sister, Mercy, who was kidnapped thirty years ago. Atlee returns to her hometown in Georgia to begin her investigation. When a local woman is killed and a second murder follows, she also has to find a killer before more people die.

First impressions: I always love a good Baldacci thriller. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I could follow along just fine. I liked the premise, so I was interested to see how the story would play out.

Characters: The story revolves around Atlee, revealing her backstory and development. I think there weren’t too many or too few characters. Overall, I enjoyed the different interactions.

Quote:

“The thing is, sometimes you think you know someone, but you really don’t.”

Writing: The book is almost 500 pages with short chapters that sometimes end in a cliffhanger. Some of the twists took me by surprise. I liked the story more and more as the plot unfolded.

Final thoughts: The ending answers some questions while setting the stage for the next book. Now I want to check out the rest of the series to see where Baldacci goes with it. If you want to read a thriller about a kidnapping and a killer in a small rural town, pick up A Minute to Midnight.


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Reading

Vanishing Acts – Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult

Title: Vanishing Acts

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about Delia Hopkins who was raised by her father, Andrew. She now has a young daughter in Sophie and a fiancé in Eric. As her wedding nears, Delia begins having flashbacks of events she doesn’t recall happening to her. Soon after, a police officer knocks on her door and reveals a shocking family secret.

First impressions: I’m a fan of Picoult, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. There’s a short prologue, and the beginning introduces readers to many of the key characters.

Characters: The story follows Delia, Andrew, Eric, and Fitz. They develop a great deal throughout the book. Even the secondary characters are well fleshed out, making the plot easy to follow.

Quote:

“Maybe knowing where you belong is not equal to knowing who you are.”

Writing: Told in alternating points of view, the book is a little less than 500 pages. I enjoyed that it was broken into several sections and chapters with short scenes. I liked how the author explores interesting issues such as motherhood along with alcoholism from different perspectives. There are some graphic and violent parts in Andrew’s chapters.

Final thoughts: The ending was my favourite part with twists and turns I didn’t quite see coming. If you want to read about family as well as memory, I recommend Vanishing Acts.


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Reading

The Great Godden – Meg Rosoff | A Book Review

The Great Godden - Meg Rosoff

Title: The Great Godden

Author: Meg Rosoff

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s about a family who spends the summer at a holiday house by the sea. When the Godden brothers in Kit and Hugo arrive, everything changes. This coming of age novel explores the loss of innocence.

I received an advanced reader copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover is interesting and drew me in. I remember reading the premise and wondering what would happen. It starts off slow, establishing the setting and introducing the different family members.

Characters: Even though the story is told from the narrator’s point of view, they are never identified by name or gender. This was an interesting choice by the author that added another layer to the story in my opinion.

The narrator’s family includes their parents, Mattie, Tamsin, and Alex who each have individual interests. I was intrigued by the two brothers who are two complete opposites: Kit is sexy, Hugo is surly.

Quote:

“After all, most of getting something is really wanting it.”

Writing: The simple writing and short chapters make it an easy read at less than 200 pages. I felt like the story focuses more on the characters than the plot, especially in the beginning. Not a lot happens at first and then everything changes all at once.

Final thoughts: The ending was quick and unexpected. I wouldn’t have minded if the author spent more time exploring the effects of the event on everyone. If you enjoy a coming of age novel about relationships and romance, consider picking up The Great Godden.


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Reading

Unknown Threat – Lynn H. Blackburn | A Book Review

Unknown Threat - Lynn H. Blackburn

Title: Unknown Threat

Author: Lynn H. Blackburn

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: It’s the first in the Defend and Protect series following Faith Malone, an FBI special agent, and Luke Powell, a US Secret Service Special Agent. They have to work together to find out why someone is targeting agents and trying to kill them.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications.

First impressions: I was looking forward to reading this novel because I’ve read Blackburn before. I like the simple title and cover. The beginning piqued my interest and made me want to see how things would unfold.

Characters: I could relate to both Faith and Luke. They have an interesting relationship that develops throughout the novel. Some of the secondary characters stood out to me as well.

Quote:

“But sometimes love happens, and the joy of it is discovering how to love someone who isn’t like you at all.”

Writing: The book is under 350 pages, so it’s not too long or too short. There are some cliffhangers and surprises at the end of a few chapters. I found the plot a little disjointed and unrealistic. At times, the novel focuses more on the characters and their conversations than the case and the investigation.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends and wraps everything up quite quickly. If you want to read a romantic suspense about federal agents from different agencies teaming up to solve a quirky case, check out Unknown Threat.


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Reading

Woman on the Edge – Samantha M. Bailey | A Book Review

Woman on the Edge - Samantha M. Bailey

Title: Woman on the Edge

Author: Samantha M. Bailey

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about Nicole Markham who gives Morgan Kincaid her baby before she jumps onto the subway tracks in front of a train. When Morgan becomes a suspect, she has to piece together the last days of Nicole’s life to prove her innocence.

First impressions: The premise pulled me in, and I thought it had a lot of potential. I like the title and cover because both reflect the story well. The beginning sets up the rest of the story. I was interested to see how the plot would play out.

Characters: Nicole and Morgan are both flawed with different secrets and regrets. I think the book could’ve had more secondary characters to make it tougher to guess who the antagonist is.

Quote:

“It’s amazing what you can get caught doing when you think no one is watching.”

Writing: It’s a short read at a little under 300 pages. The chapters alternate between Nicole’s perspective beforehand and Morgan’s point of view in the present. I found the story interesting, and the writing simple. The author explores postpartum depression, anxiety, and mental health. It wasn’t too descriptive or too dialogue heavy.

Final thoughts: The ending wraps up loose ends. It’s not the most realistic read, so at times, I had to suspend disbelief. I enjoyed the beginning and ending more than the middle of the novel. If you want to read a thriller about motherhood, check out Woman on the Edge.


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Reading

A Gambling Man – David Baldacci | A Book Review

A Gambling Man - David Baldacci

Title: A Gambling Man

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the second novel in the series that follows Aloysius Archer who works for a private investigator named Willie Dash. A politician running for mayor comes to them with a blackmail case. The story is set in Bay Town, California during the late 1940s.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’ve read the first novel, One Good Deed, and many of Baldacci’s works. I don’t really remember what happened previously, but I could follow along just fine. The beginning starts slow as the author builds the setting of the story.

Characters: Aloysius Archer, Willie Dash, and an aspiring actress named Liberty Callahan grew on me. I found it easy enough to keep track who was who. Aloysius and Liberty are strong characters individually, so I was a fan of their relationship.

Quote:

“The ultimate loyalty is to put the interests of many above your own.”

Writing: The pacing picks up at the middle and end of the novel. I love the short chapters told in third person. There’s more description in the beginning and more dialogue later on.

Final thoughts: The twists and turns throughout the story were executed well. I felt like the ending wasn’t the most unpredictable, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. If you’re looking to pick up a fun historical thriller, I would recommend A Gambling Man.


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Reading

A Man Named Doll – Jonathan Ames | A Book Review

A Man Named Doll - Jonathan Ames

Title: A Man Named Doll

Author: Jonathan Ames

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It follows Happy Doll who is a private detective by day and a security guard at night for a local Thai spa. When Lou Shelton, an old friend appears at Doll’s doorstep with a bullet in him, he tries to figure out what happened to Lou.

I received a reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’ve never read anything by Ames before, but the premise drew me in. The book is short at a little over 200 pages, so I anticipated it being a fast-paced read. I enjoyed how the author sets up the beginning of the story.

Characters: The novel lives up to its title in that it revolves around a character named Doll. I liked learning more about him, especially his past and seeing how past events shaped who he is today. Due to the short length of the book, there isn’t much space to explore other secondary characters in much depth.

Quote:

“He’d seen the worst in people and thought the worst of people.”

Writing: It’s broken up into 3 parts with short chapters. The story is told in first person point of view from Doll’s perspective, and he has a quirky sense of humour. I haven’t read a lot of noir books, so the different style made for an interesting reading experience. There are some graphic scenes and mature language.

Final thoughts: I had no idea how it would end, but it felt like everything was wrapped up almost too quickly and easily. If you want a quick read featuring a unique character who makes questionable choices, consider checking out A Man Named Doll.


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